A friend of mine has been telling me for the last five years that he wants to write a book. Has he got down to writing it? Has he finished it? The answer is no. Being called a published author has its charms. People are smitten by the novelty and the instant credibility that comes with being a published author.
However, remember, writing is a lot of hard work. It takes at least one hundred hours of sweat, tears, and discipline to write a book. But if you’re prepared to put in the time and get the job done, the rewards can be great. If you can keep doing it over and over again, you can impact a lot of people with your writing.
The reason I ask, “Why do you want to write a book?” is to get you motivated with a purpose. When things get tough, your purpose will fuel you to keep going. The trick is never to stop. Even if you write fewer words, just keep going. So, let’s start with your purpose. What is your purpose in writing a book? What is it that makes you wake up early in the morning and type those words into your word processor? Are you craving sharing your stories with the world? Or maybe you’re looking for an escape?
For me, writing is like meditation. It serves as an escape from the world. I also want to share my experiences with my audience. I remember a professor in college telling me, “We learn more by teaching than by being a student.” Whenever I write a book on a topic, I realize that there is so much that I don’t know. Today, writing has become so much a part of me that I enjoy every moment of writing, learning, and sharing. I believe all the knowledge that we have gained over the years during our lives is meant to be shared. Writing every day means that my mind is ripe with ideas, and I become more observant of what’s going on around me. I’m researching all the time. A lot of the research I do entails reading, and I probably read more books now than I have ever done. That’s because there’s a strong link between being a good reader and becoming a good writer.
The thought of writing every day might seem intimidating at first, but you’ll undoubtedly discover, as I have, that the more you keep doing it, the easier it gets—until it quickly becomes second nature.
At this stage, it may be helpful to think about some of the reasons why people want to write a book. Here’s an example from my own life: A while ago, I was staying at a backpacker’s hostel in Mumbai, where I got friendly with a financial services professional in his late twenties. He had traveled to several cities across India and wanted to write a book on how travelers could have a holistic experience by journeying across the country. Most travel guides talk about the same architectural wonders, which are common knowledge to most travelers. One can find these common places to visit on almost every blog post across the internet. But what if he wrote about unusual places, like the neighborhood tea stall, where eccentric people hang out, have fun conversations, and build memories?
The reason this young man wanted to write a book was because he had a story he wanted to tell. All the great memories he had experienced could be put into a book. It’s a shame that many of our memories and experiences go with us to our grave. A great book lives forever. Several generations can benefit from a great book. Even if a tourist destination is destroyed, it can stay in the memories of travelers, which can be shared in a book and experienced by readers vicariously.
Some people write a book because they are rather vain and enjoy the feeling of pride that comes with being a published author. To them, being published is more of an ego boost than anything else. Nothing wrong with that! Who am I to judge? Some people think social status is as important as money and relationships.
I met a person at a recent event who had studied in the best universities in the world. He was educated, smart, had a high paying job, and some serious social swag. One of the reasons for him writing and publishing a book was to boost his social currency. We call it vanity publishing. Many publishing houses that are vanity publishers charge authors a fee to publish their books.
Traditional publishers make money from the sale of their author’s books. They’ll agree to publish a book if they believe it can sell. That’s the reason traditional publishers reject the majority of the book proposals they receive—they don’t see a market for them. However, a vanity publisher makes money by charging authors a fee. Most books published by vanity publishing houses are bought by the author to distribute at events as a promotional tool.
Families, individuals, and even companies around the world use vanity publishing to share their stories and leave a legacy for future generations.
I believe everyone should write a book because everyone has a story to tell. The most common comment I hear is, “There are so many authors out there already, and so many people have already covered the topic I have in mind. How can I add something new or write something different that hasn’t been covered before?” Good question, and here’s the answer: The topic you have in mind might have been covered before, but nobody has said it in your voice. It’s not that nobody has written a book on how to write a non-fiction book—there are probably thousands of them—but the difference is that I’ve written the book in my voice. My writing style and organization of this book may not resonate with everybody, but I have an audience that loves and supports my writing by buying and sharing my work.
My first book was a Do-It-Yourself (DIY) guide. The reason I published that book was to help people write a business plan. It was only accidentally that, through this experience, I realized that writing and publishing the book went a long way towards building my credibility with readers. So, while the book wasn’t exactly a bestseller, it nevertheless opened doors for me in other ways.
In the business world, the value you bring to the table is important. However, people hire you based on the perceived value you bring to the deal. It’s a little like going out on a date; you might be a great guy or girl, but your perfect partner must agree to go out on a date with you before they see your value. Sometimes, we just need that one meeting with an important person to get our business or career moving. A bestselling book can increase your perceived value. It can open doors that were previously closed to you.
Trainers, coaches, and consultants often publish books to position themselves as authorities in their niche. A book is a part of their personal brand. If you write and publish a book on a certain topic, then you will quickly be perceived as an expert on that topic. Although authors like Brian Tracy, Stephen Covey, Dale Carnegie, Tony Robbins, and Robert Kiyosaki have bestsellers in their name, they generate a substantial part of their incomes from consulting, workshops, and selling online courses. For these authors, the book is a marketing tool to sell their other products.
Finally, some authors want to make money simply by selling their books. If an author makes a profit of $2 from the sale of each book, and sells 10,000 copies, that is $20,000 in profit. Not enough to replace your full-time income. However, if an author sells 100,000 copies of their book, that is $200,000 in profit. Not bad, right?
How Do We Calculate Profits for a
It’s simple. Profits are calculated as your share of royalties minus printing costs. Let’s say you price your book at $10. If it’s a 200-page book, the cost of printing is approximately $3, your share of royalties from an online platform like Amazon is 60%; in this case, your profit is 60% of $10, which is $6 minus printing costs of $3. This equals a profit of $3. Of course, the profits will vary depending on the retailer and the distribution platform you choose. Most people writing their first non-fiction book are mainly writing the book to build their authority within their chosen field. However, some people might be looking to make a full-time income from the royalties of book sales.
Many people who have published non-fiction books in the past will tell you that it’s not possible to make a full-time income from being a published author. That may well be true in most cases, but not all. There are thousands of people around the world who make a full-time income from publishing books.
What Does It Take to Earn a Full-Time Income from Self-Publishing Books?
#1 Consistent Effort
What does this mean? It means writing every single day, not just on the days you feel like it. It’s highly unlikely that you’ll make a full-time income from writing just one book. Most people I know who make a full-time income from book royalties write at least four books a year.
#2 Build an Audience
Your income from royalties will depend on an audience that is hungry to buy your book, likes your writing, believes in you, and is willing to buy from you every time you hit the publish button.
In the earlier paragraph, we spoke about selling 100,000 books to earn a full-time income from book royalties. Most authors don’t sell more than ten copies of their books. If a first-time author is targeting 100,000 copies, imagine how many people they need to have on their mailing list.
My experience as a writer and publisher tells me that a mailing list is one of the most important pieces of the sales puzzle for an author. It’s not the number of people on your mailing list that matters, but the number of raving fans. How many of them on your list are willing to buy your books? If you have a million people on your list, but none of them are willing to buy from you, then is the list really valuable? However, if you have just 1000 people on your list, and 100% of the people on your list buy your book, this list is far more valuable.
Now, hitting that magic 100,000 number in book sales. Is it possible? Read on, and I’ll show you that it is possible, and how you can achieve it.
First, you don’t need 100,000 people to buy your books. You can get 10,000 people to buy 10 of your books. Does that mean you should write ten books to get to 100,000? It’s a lot easier making money from 10 books than it is from one. If you have just one book, once you sell that one book to your audience, you have nothing else to sell them, unless you are using the book as bait to sell online courses or subscriptions to a membership site.
Whatever your reasons for writing a book, be clear about what they are and set yourself realistic expectations. Being clear about your purpose in writing a book is going to help you keep going when things get tough. Experienced authors will tell you that you don’t have to be perfect. It is true. Sometimes, all it takes is putting in the time and effort and ignoring your fears. We may fear that nobody might read our book. Our family and friends may ridicule us for writing a crappy book. But as Jeff Goins said,
“The book you actually write is better than the one you dream of writing.”
I want to inspire you to take action and write your first non-fiction book. I wish you all the best on this wonderful journey.